SpaceX CRS-15 Launch

SpaceX CRS-15, also known as SpX-15, is a Commercial Resupply Service mission to the International Space Station ready to launch, June 29th, 2018 at 5:41 am EST aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 17th mission of a Dragon spacecraft on SpaceX’s 15th operational cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. This mission will use a previously-flown block 4 first stage booster and a reused Dragon capsule. 

SpaceX CRS-15 Mission Patch

Packed with more than 5,900 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. About 10 minutes after launch, Dragon reaches its preliminary orbit, at which point it will deploy its solar arrays and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the International Space Station.

In addition to bringing research to the station, the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk is carrying a new Canadian-built Latching End Effector or LEE. This new LEE is being launched as a spare to replace the failed unit astronauts removed during a series of spacewalks in the fall of 2017. Each end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm has an identical LEE, and they are used as the “hands” that grapple payloads and visiting cargo spaceships. They also enable Canadarm2 to “walk” to different locations on the orbiting outpost, including Canada’s Mobile Base, which travels along rails on the space station’s main truss.

It will take three days to reach the space station, where it will arrive Monday, July 2. NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold, backed up by fellow NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, will supervise the operation of the Canadarm2 robotic arm for Dragon’s capture while NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor monitors the spacecraft’s systems. After Dragon capture, ground commands will be sent from mission control in Houston for the station’s arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.

A couple of the experiments that will be sent to the ISS on the CRS-15 mission include CIMON and DESIS. You can learn more about these experiments below.

CIMON

Airbus, in cooperation with IBM, is developing CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN), an AI-based assistant for astronauts for the DLR Space Administration. The technology demonstrator, which is the size of a medicine ball and weighs around 5 kg, will be tested on the ISS by Alexander Gerst during the European Space Agency’s Horizons mission between June and October 2018.

One of CIMON´s exercises on the International Space Station ISS will involve a Rubik´s Cube.
CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN) is a mobile and autonomous assistance system designed to aid astronauts with their everyday tasks on the ISS. This will be the first form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on an ISS mission. CIMON is an experiment overseen by Space Administration at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in cooperation with Airbus (Friedrichshafen/Bremen, Germany) as the prime contractor. CIMON is a free flyer fueled with Artificial Intelligence, enhancing human expertise. AI-based technology is about constantly understanding, reasoning and learning, so CIMON is designed to assist and to create a feeling of talking to a crewmate.

DLR Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS)

The German Space Agency (DLR) Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer (DESIS) uses the Offner spectrometer hyperspectral instrument for the spectral range of 400-1000 nm, which includes the visual to near infrared spectrum (VIS-NIR). The system features include a Compact structure with a minimal number of optical components (lens, slit, primary mirror, convex grating and complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor [CMOS] array detector). Corrected, telecentric lens objective (robust, easy adjustment, low mass) with flat field and minimal aberrations. Spherical primary mirror, which combines collimating and imaging optics. Convex grating as dispersion element, the appropriate optimization of the spectrometer at high spatial and spectral resolution up to a flat focal plane. Specially designed groove profile of the grating leads to complete suppression of the second-order spectrum and minimum polarization sensitivity. Compact with few optical elements. Corrected telecentric lens (small in dimensions and weight) with an almost aberration-free figure. Grating as a dispersion element allows a high spatial and spectral resolution of the spectrometer to a very shallow focal plane structure. Specially designed groove profile of the grating which leads to a suppression of the second order of the spectrum and minimal polarization sensitivity. Modified VIS-NIR detector based on the design of a new highly specialized detector. Rotatable input mirror allows the change of the viewing angle in the flight direction.

DESIS instrument heading for the International Space Station on CRS-15 mission
The DESIS instrument. DESIS is the first hosted payload on the MUSES Platform. Image courtesy Teledyne Brown.

For more experiments and supplies being sent to the International Space Station, visit NASA’s page at https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/spacex-crs-15-briefings-and-events. 

View images from the CRS-15 mission on our mission gallery page.

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